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World’s Oldest Student Joins September 13th Fight For 100 Million Children Denied Education


News Advisory:

Media event: 10 am Tuesday, September 13- Battery Park, New York City

85 year-old Kimani Ng’ang’a - the world’s oldest school pupil - is traveling from his small village in Kenya, East Africa, to add his voice to campaigners demanding that the world summit in New York takes action to enable 100 million of the world’s poorest children to go to school.

On Tuesday, September 13th, Mr. Kimani will take to the streets of New York in a yellow school bus with campaigners from the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), to deliver 100,000 “buddies” (1) to world leaders at the UN world summit, meeting on 14-16 September. 5 million children from all over the world have made 3.5 million buddies - each with personal messages calling for all children to go to school - and sent these to world leaders.

The school bus media launch is at Battery Park Garden Cafe and Restaurant at 10am, from where the bus will make its way through Manhattan to the UN - where the buddies will be delivered at the end of the journey. The bus will stop and meet campaigners and supporters at 10 iconic locations in New York, including the Empire State Building, Times Square and Central Park (2). Balloons will be released at each location and in Central Park the bus will stop by a game of giant snakes and ladders: the game for girls’ education, illustrating some of the real life ’snakes’ that keep girls out of school.

Kimani will be available for interview alongside the following: Rasheda Choudury (from GCE and Bangladesh Campaign for Popular Education - CAMPE), Kumi Naidoo (from Global Call for Action Against Poverty - GCAP) and Rev. Mpho Tutu (campaigner for education in the developing world and daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu).

Kimani and the Global Campaign for Education are campaigning for the countries of the world, supported by the UN, to give all children a primary education, by enacting the right policies and providing extra financial support. In Africa today 50 percent of girls do not graduate from primary school.

Why education is so important in the fight against poverty?

David Archer, Head of Education at international anti-poverty agency ActionAid, said:

“Mr. Kimani and the buddies are here in New York to make sure that the world summit delivers on its pledge for universal primary school education. Whilst Mr. Kimani is an inspiration to us all, we can’t allow 100 million children wait until they are 85 years old until they get the chance to go to school. Without an education 100 million children will continue to suffer injustice and a life of poverty.”

Kailash Satyarthi, President of the Global Campaign for Education, said:

“Five million children from all over the world have sent their message to the world’s leaders - urging them to make sure that all children in the world can go to school. Poverty will only be eradicated once all children have a basic education and - with it - the opportunity to claim their rights in life.”

Early signs are that the UN and countries of the world will not be able to deliver on their target for universal primary education - a key Millennium Development Goal (MDG) set in 2000. The first five-year target, being reviewed at next week’s world summit, is for the same number of girls as boys to go to school. This five-year target has not been delivered in more than 70 countries. Tragically there are still more than 100 million children out of school today - 60 percent of them are girls and at current rates of progress it will be 2150 before Africa meets the targets of getting all children into school. It is absolutely crucial that these goals are met. If every child in the world completed primary education, at least 7 million HIV infections would be prevented in the next decade.

As the UN looks set to put development in poor countries back, the Global Campaign for Education and its partners are campaigning for an urgent action plan to be put in place at the world summit so that all countries can deliver on the targets for gender equality and universal primary education.

For further information about this event please contact:

Alex Kent on 1 646 249 9855

Deborah Tompkins on 1 202 341 1765

Sandy Krawitz on 1 773 983 5701

For an education policy briefing please contact:

Lucia Fry on plus-44 7976 908006


Notes to editors:

1. Buddies are paper cut-out representations of children who are denied an education, made by five million children throughout Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe as part of the Send My Friend to School campaign. For more information about the campaign go to

2. Bus Timetable on Tuesday 13th September

9.00 -- Photo-shoot on Liberty Island

10.00 -- Media launch at Battery Park

11.00 -- Union Square

11.40 -- Empire State Building

12.40 -- NY Public Library

13.20 -- Times Square

14.00 -- St Patrick’s Cathedral

14.40 -- Central Park

15.30 -- Guggenheim Museum

16.30 -- Final hand over to the UN at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

3. What is the Send My Friend to School Challenge: Every year the Global Campaign for Education organizes a Global Action Week in April that has a specific action to campaign for education for all. The 2005 Action Week involved 5 million children in over 100 countries making “buddies” to represent children who are excluded from school.

4. What is the Global Campaign for Education: The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is a broad coalition of development and education research agencies and unions, representing organizations active in over 100 countries. Members and supporters include ActionAid International, NetAid, the Global March against Child Labour, the UNAIDS led Global Coalition on Women and Aids, Oxfam, CAMPE, Save the Children Alliance, CARE International, GCAP, UN Millennium Campaign, as well as Education International, which represents all Teachers’ Unions around the world. The GCE’s aim is for every child in the world to get a quality education. For more information see:

5. Progress for getting children into school: One place where progress has been made is in Bangladesh. When the Government introduced cash stipends for female pupils, girls’ enrolments in areas covered by the program rose to double the national average. i(i) In recent years Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have abolished school fees, opening the way for more than 7 million children to enroll in school who previously could not afford to do so. And in Lesotho, where until a few years ago, AIDS was causing a mass exodus from Lesotho’s schools, free education combined with school feeding is now bringing orphans back to some schools in droves. ii(ii)

6. Lack of progress of getting children into school: Elsewhere, the picture is less rosy. Although the government of Niger is devoting 40 percent of its debt relief to achieving universal primary education, further assistance is desperately needed.


-- Governments to take positive action and invest 3 percent of GDP in basic education. Primary education must be free, compulsory and good quality. The needs of illiterate adults must be met. The worst forms of child labor must be stopped. Education of girls and women must take priority.

-- The World Bank and IMF to write off poor country debt, which eats up the resources needed for education and to remove loan conditions that prevent countries from investing adequately in education.

-- Rich countries to double their aid to poor countries, and properly fund the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, which supports countries that are taking positive steps to get every child into school.

i(i) World Bank, ’Pioneering Support for Girls’ Secondary Education: The Bangladesh Female Secondary School Assistance Project’ (Washington: World Bank, 2001).

ii(ii) GCE, Learning to Survive, p. 16.


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